Barclays' Bids on Women Leaders

A previous version of this story referred to Barbara Byrne as Vice President. TheStreet regrets this error.

NEW YORK (The Street) -- Barclays (BCS) announced it is launching Women in Leadership Index and Exchange Traded Notes (ETNs) on the NYSE Arca Exchange. Under the ticker symbol "WIL," Women in Leadership is the first index to date that focuses on gender diversity.

"I'm so excited to give investors that want to invest based on their own values, where there values include gender diversity and the promotion of women in leadership," said Sue Meirs, COO of Funds Structured Market Sales, in a phone interview with The Street

This index gives investors the ability to track the fiscal performance of publicly traded companies with a female CEO or companies with more than 25% female diversity on their corporate board. The companies must have a $250 million market cap and $25 million 3-month Average Daily Value Traded in order to be included on the Women in Leadership Index. 

Some of the companies that have made the cut include Google (GOOG), IBM (IBM), AT&T (T), Verizon  (VZ) and Wells Fargo (WFC). 

"These companies have clearly opened their minds in a way that a lot of companies haven't - opened their parameters to grow their leadership in a way that most companies have not," said Meirs. "This is confirmation of their success."  

Barclays Vice Chairman in Investment Banking Barbara Byrne believes the exchange traded note can show a direct link between gender diversity and financial growth.

"Women are significantly underrepresented in corporate executive leadership, yet a growing body of third-party research suggests that gender-diverse leadership may correlate with relatively stronger corporate performance, as compared to companies with less gender-diverse leadership," Byrne said in a press release.  "We believe that providing ETNs and indices that enable investors to allocate capital to this theme will provide a market-based approach to help catalyze change."

The WIL ETNs will begin trading Thursday after the British investment bank rings the opening bell at the NYSE. 

Written by Kathryn Mykleseth in New York

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